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High Resolution Simulation of the Variability of Surface Energy Balance Fluxes Across Central London with Urban Zones for Energy Partitioning

Journal article
Authors Thomas Loridan
Fredrik Lindberg
Oriol Jorba
Simone Kotthaus
Susanne Grossman-Clarke
C. S. B. Grimmond
Published in Boundary-Layer Meteorology
Volume 147
Issue 3
Pages 493-523
ISSN 0006-8314
Publisher Springer Netherlands
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 493-523
Language en
Keywords Land-surface parameterization, London, Spatial variability, Urban canopy model, Urban energy fluxes, Urban Zones for Energy partitioning, Weather Research and Forecasting model
Subject categories Physical Geography, Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences


The parameterization of surface heat-flux variability in urban areas relies on adequate representation of surface characteristics. Given the horizontal resolutions (e.g. ≈ 0.1–1 km) currently used in numerical weather prediction (NWP) models, properties of the urban surface (e.g. vegetated/built surfaces, street-canyon geometries) often have large spatial variability. Here, a new approach based on Urban Zones to characterize Energy partitioning (UZE) is tested within a NWP model (Weather Research and Forecasting model; WRF v3.2.1) for Greater London. The urban land-surface scheme is the Noah/Single-Layer Urban Canopy Model (SLUCM). Detailed surface information (horizontal resolution 1 km) in central London shows that the UZE offers better characterization of surface properties and their variability compared to default WRF-SLUCM input parameters. In situ observations of the surface energy fluxes and near-surface meteorological variables are used to select the radiation and turbulence parameterization schemes and to evaluate the land-surface scheme and choice of surface parameters. For radiative fluxes, improved performance (e.g. > 25 W m −2 root-mean-square error reduction for the net radiation) is attained with UZE parameters compared to the WRF v3.2.1 default for all three methods from the simplest to the most detailed. The UZE-based spatial fluxes reproduce a priori expectations of greater energy storage and less evaporation in the dense city centre compared to the residential surroundings. Problems in Noah/SLUCM partitioning of energy between the daytime turbulent fluxes are identified with the overestimation of the turbulent sensible heat and underestimation of the turbulent latent heat fluxes.

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